Tallest Building: Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE
The title of world’s tallest building changed hands so many times in the first decade of the 21st century it was hard to keep track (was it the Petronas Towers? the Willis Tower? Taipei 101?). All the while, the Burj Khalifa sprouted out of the desert, growing even closer to the sun before it opened its doors in 2010 and snagged the title for good.
Size: 2,722 feet (829.8m)
Interesting Fact: If designers have their way, the world’s next tallest building, the Kingdom Tower, will rise more than 1 kilometer above the Red Sea on the north side of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Tallest Hotel: JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, UAE
The JW Marriott Marquis surpassed four other Dubai skyscrapers to officially become the tallest hotel building in the world when it opened its doors in November 2012.
Size: Two 1,165 feet (355m) twin towers, with 72 stories and 1,608 hotel rooms
Interesting Fact: The hotel comprises 14 food and beverage outlets, rooftop bars, conference halls, meeting rooms, a swimming pool, gym and 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) spa and health club.
Biggest Casino: Venetian Macao in Macao
Believe it or not, the giant casinos of Macao dwarf anything you might find on the Las Vegas Strip. Need proof? Though it’s modeled after its sister casino resort, the Venetian Las Vegas, the 40-story, 3,000-suite Venetian Macao is so much bigger, it’s considered the sixth-largest building in the world.
Size: 1.2 million square feet (110,000 m2) of convention space, 1.6 million square feet (150,000 m2) of retail, and 550,000 square feet (51,000 m2) of casino space
Interesting Fact: The Venetian Macao boasts 3,400 slot machines, 800 gambling tables and a 15,000-seat arena for entertainment and sports events.
Largest Palace: Istana Nurul Iman in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Anyone wondering where all of Brunei’s oil riches went should look no further than Istana Nurul Iman, the sultan’s $1.4 billion residence on the banks of the Brunei River. Though the Forbidden City in Beijing, Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest all claim to be larger, Guinness World Records considers Istana Nurul Iman the true record holder by total floor space.
Size: 2,152,782 square feet (200,000 m2)
Interesting Fact: The palace contains 1,788 rooms, 257 bathrooms, five pools, a banquet hall that can accommodate up to 5,000 guests and a mosque that will fit 1,500 worshipers.
Largest Religious Structure: Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia
The luminous Angkor Wat has been the world’s largest religious structure for nearly 1,000 years, and it’s unlikely to lose that title any time soon. Built by Khmer King Suryavarman II, between 1113 and 1150, and abandoned by 1432, the towering temple has emerged over the past century as one of the most iconic buildings on the planet.
Size: 401 acres (162.6ha)
Interesting Fact: At the height of the Khmer Empire, some 80,000 people lived within the temple walls.
Biggest Christian Church: Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast
Africa gets an unlikely mention on this list of extreme architectural marvels with the world’s largest Christian church: The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. Interestingly, the structure is modeled on the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Size: 322,917 square feet (30,000 m2) and 518 feet (158m) high
Interesting Fact: Built between 1985 and 1989, at a cost of $300 million, its nave can seat 7,000 people and has room for an additional 11,000 standees.
Biggest Mausoleum: Taj Mahal in Agra, India
This marble masterpiece is considered “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and has become a symbol of the nation. Indeed, it’s been called the most romantic building in the world, in part, because Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.
Size: 561 feet (171m)
Interesting Fact: The Taj Mahal attracts roughly 3 million visitors from around the world each year.
Biggest Tent: Khan Shatyr Tent in Astana, Kazakhstan
The Khan Shatyr is no ordinary tent. With a transparent glass roof and a canopy that holds 10 football stadiums’ worth of park and shops, it’s easily the highest tensile structure in the world.
Size: 500 feet tall (152m)
Interesting Fact: Underneath the tent is a mini-golf course, boating river and palm-lined beach, complete with sand imported from the Maldives.
Largest Sphere: Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden
To many a kid’s disappointment, the largest globe in the world isn't in Disney World’s Epcot Center; it’s in Sweden. The Ericsson Globe, originally known as the Stockholm Globe Arena, acts as a multipurpose venue for ice hockey, concerts and shows, though many visit to take a ride up the outside on the Skyview Funicular Railway.
Size: 361 feet (110m) in diameter, 279 feet (85m) inner height and a volume of 21.2 million cubic feet (605,000 cubic meters)
Interesting Fact: The globe actually represents the sun in the massive Sweden Solar System, the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System, which spans the entire nation.
Largest Stadium: Rungrado May Day in Pyongyang, North Korea
The 1980s were a time when North Korea held strongly the motto “go big or go home.” The nation attempted to build the world’s largest hotel (which is still unopened and now known as the “hotel of doom”), and succeeded in creating a massive stadium with the largest capacity of any in the world by more than 30,000 people.
Capacity: 150,000 people
Interesting Fact: The stadium is used for some football matches, but is more commonly known for hosting the Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang, an epic annual event that’s recognized by Guinness World Records as the biggest performance of its kind.
Largest Shopping Mall: New South China Mall in Dongguan, China
The United States may be famous for its shopping malls, but it’s Asia that’s home to eight of the 10 largest malls in the world (the other two are in Iran). Built in 2005, the absolute biggest in terms of gross leasable area is the New South China Mall in Dongguan, a city of more than 8 million people east of Guangzhou.
Size: 7.1 million square feet (659,612 m2)
Interesting Fact: The mall has a potential capacity of 2,350 stores, but remains 99 percent vacant and is classified as a “dead mall” by Emporis, a global building data firm.
Largest Museum: National Museum of China in Beijing, China
The Metropolitan Museum of Art may be the most famous museum in the world, but it’s no longer the largest. The National Museum of China took that title away from the New York institution when it reopened in 2011 after a massive 3.5-year expansion.
Size: 2.07 million square feet (192,300 m2)
Interesting Fact: A 30-foot (9m) statue of the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius greets visitors out front and sets the mood for the grandiose halls inside.
Largest Indoor Ski Resort: Snow World in Landgraaf, Netherlands
It’s winter 365 days of the year at the world’s largest indoor ski resort in the Netherlands. Built in 2001, Snow World also boasts the only indoor downhill slope approved by the International Ski Federation, where official World Cup and European Cup competitions take place.
Size: Five runs and nine lifts, with the longest slope at 1,700 feet (520m)
Interesting Fact: Stockholm’s Skipark 360 will nab the title of world’s largest indoor ski resort when it opens its frosty doors in 2015 with a 2,300-foot-long (700m) downhill slope and a 2.2-mile (3.5km) cross-country ski tunnel.
Biggest Swimming Pool: Crystal Lagoon at San Alfonso del Mar Resort in Algarrobo, Chile
If you put 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools back to back, you still wouldn’t reach the length of Chile’s massive seaside pool at the private San Alfonso del Mar Resort. The Crystal Lagoon is so enormous, many choose to sail or row their way across, rather than swim.
Size: 20 acres (8ha) with a capacity of 66 million gallons of water
Interesting Fact: Not only is the Crystal Lagoon the largest pool in the world, it’s also one of the deepest, plunging to a depth of 115 feet (35m).
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...